For ISPs and other online providers to engage effectively in the Child Online Protection Initiative, it is crucial that they have a clear understanding of how content and services are classified in the jurisdictions within which they operate. Collaborating with local broadcasters should be very helpful in terms of developing such an understanding. It is also important to understand how the local legislation perceives the ‘location’ of content and determines the ‘place’ at which a service is delivered or received. Each country has a responsibility to develop their own legislation that they can apply to Internet content and services within their jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, as several studies have shown, many countries have insufficient or inadequate legislation to deal with the issue of online child protection. Additionally different jurisdictions hold differing views. These differences can be abused or exploited to the detriment of children. Criminals and child abusers will know which countries have the weakest laws or the least developed mechanisms for dealing with these sorts of issues and they will naturally gravitate towards them unless counter-vailing measures are taken.
Given this inconsistency in the legislative and policy frameworks across different countries, it is imperative that the Internet industry at large embrace best practice guidelines and adopt global standards and codes of practice that allow them to exercise a socially responsible effort towards dealing with the issue of child online protection.
In many countries around the world, industry is taking a lead and adopting voluntary and self-regulatory approaches that demonstrate commitment to developing a responsible approach to children’s use of online ICT and communications. It is very much in the industry’s interests to take action, to get ahead of the curve, not only because it is the right thing to do from a moral perspective, but also because, in the longer run it will help develop public confidence in the Internet as a medium.
Without that confidence and trust, the technology will never deliver or fulfil its enormous potential both to enrich and empower individuals but also to add to the economic prosperity and well being of each country.